Monday, 11 October 2010

Why only one Cask Ale at Tower Bridge?

Well, we started with three and I wasn't happy with the quality. Nor were some of the punters. Among them was Hermano Primero ("The older and let's face it, cooler half of the Dos Hermanos blogging crew") who described his pint of Wandle at Tower Bridge as "flat as a pancake". This sparked some lively debate on-line with some coming vigorously to our defence. And certainly those - like myself - who think the Wandle at Northcote and Westrbidge is as close to transcendental as you are likely to get - were riled. But the bugger had a point. It was, well, flat.

What does flat mean for a cask ale? At its best a good pint of live cask ale has a bright clarity and a raciness in the mouth which never, and I mean never equates to fizziness. It is a glorious, fecund foaminess. Imagine the primordial soup controlled by superhuman genius for your pleasure. It's that lively. 

The trouble with this unholy, beautiful stuff is that unlike pasteurised keg beer it is alive and if any of a number of factors are not absolutely perfect than it is, well, shite. Or flat. And one of the key things required is turnover. And at Tower Bridge, with twenty-four choices (21 of them in keg) we just weren't getting the turnover on the cask pumps. So following Hermano-Wandle-Gate we dropped down to one which we are rotating cask-to-cask. As turnover increases (and boy is it ever) we will of course be adding to the roster. Watch this space.

Currently on the hand pump is a cask lager - Schiehallion from Clackmannanshire. I indulged in a little quality control and can confirm that everything, and I mean everything, about it was just, well, right.

Next blogpost - re-engineering the Northcote Burger - the Slider cometh.



  1. Interesting, I wouldn't say any of the cask beer I've had Tower Bridge was "Flat as a pancake". A little warm sometimes, a little lifeless sometimes, yes ... but not flat as a pancake.

    Regarding turnover, I would say it actually took me a little while to notice the hand pumps at the Tower Bridge branch, they're kinda hidden out the way a bit.


  2. I really do think it's getting there now. We also have a better cellar cooler going in next week which will further augment the quality.

  3. The Schiehallion was so damn good it flew out in a mere 48hrs and Wandle is back in the lines.

  4. Only the mediocre is always at its best - real ale is real ale - and it has its off days.

    Your right about turnover though - you need throughput for a beer to get to its right level (well that's my excuse anyway).